"Great by Choice" by Jim Collins essay

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This is a how to book that shows the steps one must take in order to have a successful and lasting business. The book is sort of an autobiography of companies which have withstood the test of time and continued to thrive in comparison to those that exhibit limited success and then fade into oblivion when there are adverse changes in the economy.

The book also includes well documented research as well as companies well known to us. They show the steady performance and measures taken to combat challenges faced in day to day running of blue chip companies. It is a step by step guide of how not only to stay afloat in business, but also to cut through the complexities of unexpected outcomes.

Uncertainty is a part of our everyday existence and we live each day not knowing if it will be a good one or a bad day. The difference between the companies and people that survive the chaos and uncertainty of life is their outlook on life as well as their preparedness. People who often face difficult situations when faced with another similar situation will know exactly how to handle them. Smooth seas never made a seasoned sailor thus it is how different people learn to deal with problems that differentiates from the exceptional and the mediocre. These 10Xers are exceptional in what they do; they do not shy away from challenges but in fact embrace them. “They don’t merely react; they create. They don’t merely survive; they prevail. They don’t merely succeed; they thrive.”

Consistency is another point emphasized by the book. Steady progress rather than leaps of activity because one can easily get exhausted between bursts of energy and lag behind. Consistency also involves a lot of self-constraint, since one is usually tempted to make the most out of seemingly good situations which might be detrimental in the long run. Consistency will make everyone aware of the goals and the steps to achieve them not to try and over achieve “These create productive discomfort, much like hard physical training or rigorous mental development, and must be challenging (but not impossible) to achieve in difficult times (Collins & Hansen, 2011).”

Fire bullets then cannons are a personal favorite as I read the book. The title of that chapter is not only funny but this analogy is in touch with reality and the best argument for empirical study. It basically employs the common bull’s eye and arrows concept to show how one can chart the path to use. When one fires the first bullet they will inadvertently miss. They may probably also miss with the second bullet but with a smaller margin. By the time they are out of bullets, they will know exactly where to point the canon to have best impact. As with life and business, one can start out small, trying out this and that and whatever fails to work can be modified and tried repeatedly until the best method is established which can then be exploited on a larger scale.

I feel the title does not fully explain the content of the book. Great by choice not by chance would probably do it more justice, since many people usually think that these companies, referred to as the 10xers in the book have just been lucky.

The explanation for each chapter and related questions make sure that the reader is well versed with the content. It also has several graphical representations and tables to fully expound on a point. The book is eye opening even in day to day activities especially the ‘pace yourself’ chapter of the book. Often times we are tempted to laze around then do things all at once with sudden bursts of energy. However, the teachings in this book insist on consistency as the best way to achieve a goal rather than riding big waves and hoping to prosper. Fire bullets then cannons are also an interesting analogy which makes for a captivating read. It is a good motivational read.

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